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Recent Cases from the Civil Litigation Division

These are among cases handled in recent months by the Office of the Attorney General’s Civil Litigation Division:


The Civil Litigation Division won a defense verdict on April 30 in favor of the District of Columbia and individual officer defendants in a lawsuit filed by Lashan Daniels. Ms. Daniels got into an argument with her neighbor on May 18, 2010 and police were called. Ms. Daniels was arrested for disorderly conduct when she refused an officer’s order to return to her apartment.  She claimed that the police officers arrested her without probable cause and caused her emotional trauma that exacerbated her distress from her high risk pregnancy.  Ms. Daniels sued the District of Columbia and three officers of the Metropolitan Police Department alleging assault and battery, unlawful arrest and excessive force in violation of her constitutional rights and intentional infliction of emotional distress.  Plaintiff’s complaint sought compensatory and punitive damages of ten million dollars.  

The case was originally filed in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia and was removed to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  The case was tried for two days before United States District Judge Beryl A. Howell.  The jury deliberated for approximately two hours before returning a verdict in favor of all defendants.  Plaintiff has not appealed the judgment entered in favor of the District and the defendant officers.

The case was tried by Assistant Attorneys General Joseph González and Portia Roundtree.   

WENDY THORNHILL V. D.C.  2012 CA 002047 B

On May 8, the division succeeded in obtaining judgment for the District in this matter in which the Department of Health terminated plaintiff’s employment due to a reduction in force.  Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking damages related to her claim of age discrimination in violation of the District of Columbia Human Rights Act. The District argued that plaintiff’s DCHRA claim based on an alleged discriminatory transfer was time barred.  Superior Court Judge John M. Mott agreed.  We also argued that plaintiff’s DCHRA claim for illegal termination based on age was not supported by the facts because the supervisor who allegedly made comments about plaintiff’s age had left employment with the District before plaintiff’s employment was terminated and he had not been plaintiff’s supervisor for two years prior to the termination of plaintiff’s employment.  The court agreed that plaintiff could not rebut the District’s non-discriminatory reason for her termination, namely, that Plaintiff was terminated pursuant to a valid Reduction-in-Force.

Assistant Attorneys General James A. Towns and Portia Roundtree handled the case.

PRIMAS  v. D.C., LANIER  2009 –CV-2317 (RJL)   

After a five-day trial in federal court, a jury on June 20 returned a verdict in favor of the District of Columbia in a lawsuit by a former Metropolitan Police Department commander, who claimed that she was subject to race and sex discrimination during a police department reorganization. During the reorganization in 2007, Evelyn Primas, then a commander, claimed that she was being discriminated against and effectively forced to retire. The District argued there was no discrimination and that MPD Chief Cathy L. Lanier was authorized to make the personnel changes involved in the reorganization.

The jury rejected Primas’s claims of race and sex discrimination after less than an hour of deliberation.  The amended complaint had sought $1 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages. The case was tried before United States District Judge Richard J. Leon.

Assistant Attorneys General Kerslyn Featherstone and Shermineh Jones tried the case on behalf of the District and Chief Lanier, who had been sued individually.


D.C. Superior Court Judge Craig Iscoe affirmed the Department of Health’s decision to deny petitioner’s application for a medical marijuana dispensary registration. Eagle Organics Corporation filed its petition for review of the agency’s denial of its application alleging that DOH erred by scoring the wrong application and that DOH’s decision was arbitrary and capricious.  The court initially remanded the case to the agency for it to provide additional detail concerning its decision.  After the agency issued an amended decision, petitioner requested review by the Superior Court.   

On April 14, Judge Iscoe found that the agency complied with the procedures mandated by the medical marijuana regulations and provided sufficient detail regarding the application’s deficiencies.  The court concluded that DOH’s decision was not arbitrary and capricious.  This was one of the first medical marijuana cases handled by the Civil Litigation Division.

Assistant Attorney General Soriya Chhe represented DOH.